Srila Prabhupada words are in Bold, Italics, Blue and Underlined Font. My comments follow.
I am little observing now, especially in your country, that our men are losing their enthusiasm for spreading on our programs of Krishna Consciousness movement. Otherwise, why so many letters of problems are coming, dissatisfied? That is not a very good sign. The whole problem is they are not following the regulative principles, which I can detect. Without this, enthusiasm will be lacking.
Srila Prabhupada became aware of problems amongst the rank-and-file disciples due to many letters he was receiving. He said that these problems were causing many disciples to lose their enthusiasm. He then warns that, that was not a good sign. Nevertheless, he then says what the central, core, problem was,
“Not following the regulative principles.”
Which he said is the reason for the lack of the desired enthusiasm.
As you may imagine, and I can testify personally, following the four regulative principles is actually a very radical concept in this planet Earth’ especially in western developed nations like the USA. It is very austere to say the least. I understood that it was absolutely mandatory to follow these principles, in order to be a physical member of an ISKCON community, and be worthy of being a disciple of Srila Prabhupada. Hence, I was amazed to hear Srila Prabhupada say that he detecting that there was a problem, in ISKCON, with following these principles.
In hindsight, I can now understand that I had, a somewhat sentimental understanding, of Srila Prabhupada other disciples. I assumed that everyone was following the four principles; no doubt about it. Not eating flesh of dead animal, no gambling, were the easy ones to follow. However, no intoxication, and no illicit sex, were the difficult ones. If one wanted to become a disciple of Srila Prabhupada, one had to practice celibacy. However, married devotees could try to conceive a child only during the fertile period of the female, and the act of sexual intercourse, could only be performed once that month, during that fertile period, and after chanting rounds on beads all day long. Once there was conception, both husband and wife would remain celibate until they desired to have another child. If they decided not to have any more children, then they would remain celibate for the rest of their life’s.
Srila Prabhupada once said that because of this protocol, a married couple are better than a brahmacari, (a celibate student). For a householder, to have a woman’s constant companionship, makes it very austere due to the constant temptation, if you will. On the other hand, a brahmacari did not have this constant temptation before him or her. There is an analogy in this regard.
“A man is like butter, and a woman is like fire. If you place the butter very close to fire, the butter will melt.”
At the time Srila Prabhupada wrote this letter, I was a “rookie”, neophyte, and sentimental devotee with only two years of experience amongst a ISKCON community. From 1974 and up to Srila Prabhupada’s departure, many devotees left the movement. Many because they could not follow the regulative principles, and others for many other sorts of reasons. At that time two terms were used,
- Blooped, meaning they made a mistake.
- Fell-down, meaning they fell from a higher existence.
In all regards, “not following the four regulative principles” was the major reason. Moreover, it is a fact that many devotees, who broke the four regulative principles, especially no-illicit-sex”; remained in ISKCON. Not just rank and file devotees, but Temple-presidents, and sannaysis as well.
In 1993, when I went to live in Vrindavana, I met a God brother, who left ISKCON, and then returned to live and serve in India. Kind of like my story; but my transgressions where more serious than his. Many years before, he had been un-faithful to his wife, so left ISKCON feeling he had betrayed Srila Prabhupada, by not keeping his vows to him. When he returned, he confessed, was remorseful, and asked for forgiveness from all those devotees he knew.
He explained to me that while he was away, he contemplated what happened. Why did this happen, why was he not able to resist these temptations. Or just plainly; after following these principles for a long time, why does one, stop following them. Hence, he researched Srila Prabhupada works for a couple of years, in order to get the answers to his questions.
He told me that his problems, and also all the problems that were going on in ISKCON in 1993, were due to,
“Not understanding and knowing how to apply the knowledge of the Three Modes of Material nature, and the Divine and Demonic natures, which are described in Bhagavad-gita As It Is.’”